The Corner

AP Story: “Dems to Use Clout to Force Change in Iraq”

And just what change might that be?  This AP story is a good synopsis of the obstacles and longer-term dangers facing Dems on Iraq now that they’ve got the reins in Congress.  A few excerpts:

First stop next year will be legislation calling for an undetermined number of troops to come home immediately. Though Democrats are divided over exactly what to propose, they say their effort will send a loud political signal to disgruntled U.S. voters, and to Iraqis to assume more responsibility.

’’I believe a number of Republicans will want to join forces here because there’s a lot of unease in the country,’’ said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., in line to head the Senate Armed Services Committee in the new Congress….

Aides say when the new Congress convenes in January, Democrats plan to call for troops to begin coming home from Iraq and to increase money for veterans and training special operations forces. Levin and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said they also will push for more money to fix damaged military equipment….

’’It’s going to be hearings, accountability, trying to restore trust so the people understand what the real facts are,’’ said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the Marine veteran who last year called for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and helped crystallize congressional opposition to the war….

Further, even though Democrats will control the Senate, they will do so only by a narrow 51-49 margin. Democrats will lack the two-thirds majorities needed to override presidential vetoes and enact bills the White House might oppose, and the 60 votes needed to prevent Senate Republicans from filibustering legislation.  They also might have to work to keep Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the longtime Democrat who won Tuesday as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, on their side….

Polls of voters found a strong majority — about six in 10 — disapproved of the war in Iraq. About a fourth of those polled said they sided with Democrats on wanting to withdraw some troops from Iraq and another three in 10 said they want all troops withdrawn….

But while setting timetables may have helped Democrats win votes, they may have a tough time pushing their plan through Congress. Democratic incumbents are divided on how soon to pull troops out of Iraq, and the party risks being held responsible by voters in the 2008 presidential elections if an abandoned Iraq collapses into a full-blown civil war.

It is especially true in politics that more tears are shed for answered prayers than for unanswered ones. 

Mario Loyola — Mr. Loyola is a research associate professor and the director of the Environmental Finance and Risk Management Program at Florida International University and a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. From 2017 to 2019 he was the associate director for regulatory reform at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.